I have been web surfing all morning and just came across your site. I have a 14 year old daughter who lives and breathes Volleyball. She has played 1 year of Club where they went to USA Nationals and is currently starting on her HS Varsity Team as a Freshman. 2 Great accomplishments for such a young athlete, and while I have encouraged her to take some time to enjoy these successes...she is pushing for more. She does everything in her power to improve herself and her skills, all without any pushing from me.
Her ultimate goal? Without hesitation, she will tell you to play for Penn State Women's Volleyball Team. Now I encourage her with this dream every step of the way, however I am also realistic. She is 14, 5'11, and a MB. It is doubtful she will grow anymore than her current height. While she is good for our area, New Jersey, after competing at the National Level in Indianapolis this year, it was very clear that there are hundreds of athletes at her current level and higher.
My question to you is, what are the best things that she can be doing and focusing on right now. I know its skills and training, but are there other areas that would help her? Strength or weight training? What areas in particular do college coaches look for in a Middle Blocker? As far as playing in college, is there anything she can do now that would help to get her noticed?
While I would never push her and I am very conscious of her getting burnt out, she asks on a daily basis how she can get better. I only want to make sure that I am helping her in any way that I can and matching her efforts.
Any advice you can give would be greatly appreciated!
Thank you so much for your time,
Your daughter's opportunity to play collegiate volleyball as a Middle Blocker will be determined by her height. If she stays at 5'11" she will not have as many opportunities as a 6'2" player will. Volleyball is a height driven sport and the MB position may be the most height sensitive in the recruiting process.
Should your daughter's height max out at 5'11" and she stays in the MB position, she will need to focus on her technique. Of course, being athletic and jumping high will have a positive effect, but 'shorter' MB's need to have outstanding skills to generate maximum opportunities. Her attack footwork for all attack options needs to excellent and fast, her armswing needs to be excellent, her blocking movement along the net needs to be excellent and quick, her transition and re-attack, her reading of the offenses, her short zone serve receive, etc., etc, etc. By doing all the techniques at a very high level, this will mitigate her height as much as possible.
How does a player become technically excellent? By listening to her coaches (whether this is her high school coach, her club coach, her private coach, her camp coach, her all star coach) and then applying what they are saying. Many players may listen but it is the ones who apply what they just heard that excel.
If her goal is to play NCAA Division I (and as you read through collegevolleyballcoach.com and Inside College Volleyball or if you attend any of my Recruiting Education talks with NCSA, you will understand that I strongly encourage families to explore all non-DI avenues), then moving into an Outside Hitter position will create more opportunities. A good 5'11" outside hitter will have more DI interest than a 5'11" middle blocker.
Should she wish to transition to the OH position, then doing so this year in club is critical. A mistake that players make, is moving positions as Seniors as opposed to Freshman. Switching positions and excelling, late in club or high school is tough. There is a difference between moving to a new position and being successful in the new position.
During this time of her season (high school), encourage her to focus on maximizing each practice and match opportunity to get better. If she wants to be a great volleyball player, then she needs to focus on being great every day, on every touch, at every practice and in every match.
Being good is relatively easy based upon a player's natural gifts; they are athletic and things come easily to them within their position or sport. Being better than good is a function of focus and challenging oneself to become better than good every time they are in the gym.